By Norman Katende
“Forget the high prices, people love their national team!”
This is the kind of love shown by the Uganda Cranes fans who flocked Namboole Stadium in thousands, clearly refuting pre-match talk that this time round, fans would snub their national soccer team and not turn up at the sports facility due to averagely high ticket prices.
With the cheapest ticket going for sh40, 000, people had grumbled that the price was very high for an average Uganda Cranes fan.
But that didn’t seem quite so, especially with the crowds that hit the road to Namboole Saturday morning.
Adorned in national team replica jerseys, the fans used all possible means to reach Namboole in style, clearly hopeful that the Cranes eliminate Zambia’s Chipolopolo from further contention in the continent's biggest soccer show.
The Ugandan ‘13th player’ – the fans – want to see their team through to the finals of AFCON due in South Africa next year.
That’s all they want to bear witness to.
And with that, they very know that they will have witness an end 34 years of soccer misery. The last time Cranes reached that stage was in 1978.
“It is a Uganda Cranes team! It is our team! Let’s go and support them!” one fan almost choked as he, together with a crowd of other supporters, maneuvered their way along Jinja Road, headed for Namboole Stadium.
Call it excitement. Call it spirit. Call it passion for the game. Call it whatever you prefer. That is what they too call it, only in a different wording!
Along the way, fans sang songs in unison, walked in groups. Others cruised dangerously on motorcycles and many atop vehicles.
Dangerous scenes there, but “What the heck!” a fan would say.
Vehicles en route to Namboole deafened the air with the Uganda national anthems and other songs.
Despite such optimism and energy, some fans admitted that it would not be an easy game for Cranes.
The Zambians come into this game as the reigning champions of the continent.
“It is a tough game. Zambia is tight but we will fight on. We Go! We go!” a fan chanted.